“Murder your darlings”
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863 – 1944)
According to the high venerated Wikipedia Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch encouraged his students to murder their darlings, or quickly kill off those things they thought dear to them, in order to start afresh and anew. It’s a very good point. It also applies to those things that started off as fun, but over time became more of an obligation, and lost their lustre in doing so.
Back at the beginning of 2012, I started a little blog called Bloody Complaining. This was to be my dumping ground for all the complaints that my friends had to listen to every time I saw them; I had used the more traditional location of the Facebook status update to share these with the world previously, but I just came across as a whinger. Nobody likes to be thought of as a whinger.
Over seven months, I piled all my likes and dislikes into this sounding off point. I had set myself the high bar of posting every day and never repeating myself; this was incredibly easy for the first month and got progressively harder as the months wore on.
I found myself struggling to complain. The adage of never repeating myself was designed for the benefit of my many readers, or so I thought, but looking back at the early posts I realised – too late – that they were generic and any complaining on the same broad point could be seen as repetition. I had ruined my chances before I started.
It became a chore, this little complaining blog. Days would go by without an update, and then I would hurry to backfill the missing days. Often I found myself documenting seven or more complaints at once, and then inserting them carefully into the timeline. These complaints became weaker and weaker and my outrage dimmed, rending the last few posts little more than a bit of a moan.
And then July came, and I posted on the first two days, but ran out of steam. My iPad showed my Omnifocus reminder to post a new complaint every day, but I didn’t. I let each day lapse, and the distance between the last post and the current day grew larger and larger.
By the end of July, the gap was just too large, and it occurred to me that this fun little experiment had run its’ course. I was no longer able to complain as vociferously as I had done before, and the creation of new posts was no longer something I looked forward to, but something that was just hard work.
So yesterday I posted my last post. I may well keep the blog there as a reminder of what I managed – over 180 separate complaints is no mean feat, after all – but is now a static piece of memories for me.
I murdered my darling, and today it finally occurred to me what that phrase means. It was a necessary murder.